Movie Review: "The Street Stops Here"

    
March 30th, 2010
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The Street Stops Here will air on PBS on Wednesday at 10 PM EST.

Coach [kohch] - noun. A person who trains an athlete or a group of athletes (dictionary.com).

What's the definition of a coach? Given what most dictionaries hold it's a rather vague term, but if you look within the word you will find its true and complete meaning. Such is the role of the movie The Street Stops Here, which takes a look into the methods of Bob Hurley Sr. as he leads St. Anthony High School (Jersey City, NJ) on a quest towards its' 22nd state title (they now have 23) in the 2007-08 season. Does a coach simply coach in the gym? Does a coach only work within the confines of athletics? Throughout the course of this documentary the viewer will learn a variety of meaning to the word.

What made this season and the group that Coach Hurley led so remarkable was two things: six seniors were heading to college on Division I scholarships, but they were also looking to avoid becoming the first graduating class in Hurley's time at St. Anthony to graduate without a state title. They're familiar names as well, with co-captains Travon Woodall (Pittsburgh) and Jio Fontan (USC via Fordham) leading a squad that also included Mike Rosario (Rutgers), Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas), Alberto Estwick (Fordham) and A.J. Rogers (Saint Joseph's) among others (most notably Dominic Cheek, who now plays at Villanova).

But this isn't just about one year or even four; it's about a legacy of excellence in the face of uncertainty. From the streets that the players need to rise above in hopes of making something of their lives to the works of the late Sister Alan (who battled cancer during he final years at the school) and development director Kathleen Staudt with the hope of keeping the school afloat financially. From the coach who works in the community to reach out to the youth of Jersey City to the parents like a Jorge Fontan who strive to be a positive force in the lives of young men at an important stage in their lives, director Kevin Shaw depicts the story that is St. Anthony in outstanding fashion.

Why have so many made the call for the Basketball Hall of Fame to open its doors to Coach Hurley? The numbers speak for themselves: 957 wins, 23 state titles, 10 Tournament of Champions titles and three USA Today national titles. But it's more than the numbers on the court; what he's done for the lives of countless kids who were a part of his program speaks volumes. In his 36 years as a head coach just two players did not attend college after graduation. Two. 150 of his players have received college scholarships with more to come in the future, and while all haven't made their way to the NBA they've made something of themselves.

The Street Stops Here gives viewers an inside look at one of the nation's most successful high school programs with film of practices and games as the Friars look to win another state title. You'll see the hard work that goes into raising the necessary funds to keep the school afloat, including the decline of the stock market that puts a serious dent in donations to the school. And you will see the maturation of a class that desperately wants to leave their school with a title not only for themselves but as a measure of thanks for a man who has given them so much.

So what's the definition of "coach"? The Street Stops Here shows that the impact of a successful coach stretches far beyond the court and doesn't have to be solely about basketball. Coach Hurley is a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame with the 2010 class to be announced on Championship Monday; The Street Stops Here will give you an idea of why so many have campaigned on his behalf through various mediums. Give up the "reality" TV for one night and be sure to tune in.